Every year, International Museum Day is observed on 18 May through lectures, workshops and exhibitions
Lounge picks museums to discover and events to attend across select cities
FLIGHTS OF FANCY, Air Force Museum, Delhi
Located at the Air Force Station in Palam, the museum houses iconic memorabilia from the history of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The museum’s annexe is home to old portraits of some of the most decorated officers of the air force. There’s also a collection of photographic history that describes the early years of the IAF and of important officers from the two world wars. But the museum’s hangar is where the real excitement lies. With more than 15 different types of aircraft, this is the place to be if you are an aviation enthusiast. Among the aircraft stationed here is the Westland Wapiti, which was the first plane to fly over the Khyber Pass in 1929.
Open from Wednesday-Sunday (closed on 18 May)
A participatory museum, the Conflictorium captures conflicts that occur in the everyday lives of people. According to open-source art and culture portal Sahapedia’s museum-mapping project, MuseumsofIndia.org, there are seven key spaces here, such as the Empathy Alley, featuring speeches by political figures, and the Memory Lab, which allows visitors to add notes in empty jars, expressing their deepest feelings. The Conflictorium also houses the Constitution in a space called Moral Compass. The peepal tree outside the museum has been designated the “Sorry Tree", where visitors can reflect on the importance of the word “apology", and the weight it carries when left unexpressed.
Open from Tuesday-Sunday;
THE BRAINY MUSEUM, Nimhans, Bengaluru
The only one of its kind in India, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) houses hundreds of specimens of the human brain, most of which indicate some pathology, like Alzheimer’s disease, aneurysms, fungi and trauma. It may seem bizarre and a touch macabre, but the museum allows visitors to handle preserved brains, thereby serving an important function in educating people about the brain and other parts of the nervous system.
Open from Monday-Friday; Nimhans.ac.in
COOL BASICS, Piramal Museum of Art, Mumbai
The Lower Parel-based institution joins the worldwide community of museums and museum-goers with workshops themed around its ongoing exhibition, Making Art: Materials And Technology. With a focus on creativity and materials that can be transformed into art, children can register for a thread-painting workshop, while a tile-making workshop is open to all. Though one of the youngest museums in Mumbai—it opened in late 2015—the Piramal museum has become a venue for large-scale, thought-provoking exhibitions on contemporary art. Visitors can avail a free guided tour every Sunday—the current exhibition runs well into July.
Open all days; Piramalmuseum.com
TIME TRAVEL, Heritage Transport Museum, Gurugram
The museum showcases the evolution of transportation in India—from the advent of the wheel to Bajaj Chetak and a Villier Bike from England. On display are over 75 vintage and classic cars, such as the Rupee Mobile, and a Contessa classic encrusted with 18,902 one-rupee coins. Also interesting is the gallery of palanquins, bullock carts and horse carriages. On most days, one will find a gaggle of schoolchildren walking through the multi-level galleries, gawking at the historic zeppelin Hindenburg suspended from the ceiling or the padua boat from Odisha in the section on boats and ships. The museum also has regular exhibitions by leading contemporary artists.
Open from Tuesday-Sunday;
MAKING MONEY TALK, RBI Monetary Museum, Mumbai
Discover this museum in the Fort area, started by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which showcases the history of coins and currencies. It’s located on the ground floor of the RBI premises and you can easily spend a morning learning about the 1,000-year-old story of the world economy. It has coinage from the Indus Valley, the Kushana empire, the Gupta period and the British Raj.
Open from Monday-Saturday (closed on 18 May); Rbi.org.in
FIRST FLUSH, Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, Delhi
Turns out toilet humour was a royal geopolitical affair, with an 18th century pot used by French royalty being designed as a stack of Shakespearean books to mock the English. And it’s available for view along with other such fascinating commodes, bidets and a machine that turns human waste into ash. In a country where open defecation remains a health and sanitation issue, the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, founded in 1992, seeks to promote a healthy conversation about the lavatory, using history, humour and information.
Open from Monday-Saturday; Sulabhtoiletmuseum.org
A week-long discussion that takes place online around International Museum Day is led mainly by @MuseumWeek. The hashtags to scan Twitter and Instagram are #MuseumWeek and #InternationalMuseumDay; you will find that several Indian institutions are running online conversations that continue the ones offline. Like every year, Museum Week has a focus, and this year it is #WomenInCulture, a way to reclaim the role of women in history, art, culture and science. Look up the Partition Museum, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Jaya He, Heritage Lab, Sarmaya, Sahapedia, Marg Foundation, and more, on social media to see not just their take on the contribution of women professionals, artists and scientists, but, also, captivating art.